Another child shot

Levana Primary School Grade R pupils and other pupils paid tribute to their slain schoolmate, Nathlia Pienaar.

Another child has been shot and wounded in the ongoing war between rival gangs.

An 8-year-old boy was hit by a stray bullet on Monday August 26, at about 7pm, when gangs shot at each other in Parkers Walk in Parkwood.

This was just two days after Grade R Levana Primary School pupil, Nathlia Pienaar, was hit in the head by a stray bullet meant for a gangster while playing outside her Grindal Avenue home in Lavender Hill on the morning of Saturday August 24. She later died in hospital (“Playful Nathlia killed in crossfire”, Southern Mail, August 28) .

A 24-year old man was also shot and wounded in the incident, said Steenberg police spokesperson, Sergeant Wesley Twigg.

He confirmed that two men were arrested and are still in custody for murder and attempted murder and have appeared in court. The case was postponed and they will appear again on Friday September 6.

Nathlia’s mother, Natalie Pienaar, said she was relieved when she found out two people were arrested for shooting her daughter.

“I hope justice will be served and apparently police are looking for another suspect. I hope they find him. It won’t bring my child back but it will mean those who are guilty will get the punishment they deserve. I also want to thank everyone for their support since Nathlia was shot,” she said.

Nathlia’s family held a vigil on Tuesday August 27, while schoolmates of the 6-year old pupil shed tears as they sang, recited poems and commemorated their slain friend at a memorial service on Friday August 30. Nathlia was buried on Saturday August 31.

Staff at the school also started a thumbs-up campaign in her honour, because she was pictured showing a thumbs up in one of the last photographs taken of her.

School principal André Lamprecht said the thumbs-up campaign will focus on the good in Lavender Hill.

“Rene Roman left a legacy of reading at our school and a library was built in her honour. Nathlia left a thumbs-up legacy which will always be with us. What happened is tragic but there is hope for our children and our community and that’s what we will concentrate on – the positive instead of the negative. Thumbs up to positivity, to our values, thumbs up to our community and to a better future for our children. Her picture is a symbol of hope and although we miss her, she will never be forgotten,” said Mr Lamprecht.

Aunt Natasha Davids, who looked after Nathlia and her two siblings after their grandmother passed away in December, said those responsible should be given the harshest punishment.

“Even though we knew there was gang tension we didn’t expect this to happen because it was quiet for a long time so we allowed the children to play outside and people were walking outside thinking it is safe. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those who shot her took her away from us in such a brutal way and she didn’t deserve that. She was just playing outside innocently when she was shot.

“There is a third person who must still be arrested and we will oppose their bail. They do not deserve to be out,” said Ms Davids.

Meanwhile, a 32-year-old man was arrested in the attempted murder case of the 8-year-old Parkwood boy.

Grassy Park police spokesperson, Captain Wynita Kleinsmith, said the man was arrested after police searched several addresses looking for the culprit.

He was arrested at an address in Moosa Walk in Parkwood and was also found with 12 packets of tik and two mandrax tablets. He will appear in court on charges of possession of drugs as well as the attempted murder case. He is allegedly affiliated to a gang in Parkwood.

GrassyParkCommunityPoliceForum(CPF) welcomed the arrest.

Chairperson Melvin Jonkers said guns should be taken off the streets.

“This (arrest) shows that the police will not leave a single stone unturned in their quest to apprehend and bring to book those who harm our children through senseless violence, especially the reckless shooting. Every gun taken off our streets and from our living spaces, makes life a bit more bearable in gang-ridden areas such as Parkwood Estate.

“The CPF encourages police to continue this good work and calls upon our communities to assist the police in making our areas safer by giving information about the whereabouts of guns and drugs. Together we can make a difference and bring some normality to our living spaces,” said Mr Jonkers.